Weird episode this week. Good weird, but still, this one felt the most like a show that’s been derived from a graphic novel of the four so far. Rather than sticking to a breakneck ongoing narrative the way many TV dramas do, this one felt a lot like a one-off episode, just, “The one where they meet a bunch of…” well, I’ll hold off spoiling in case you missed either the episode or read Monday’s mini-recap.
A CANOE, IN THE QUARRY
We open up on Andrea and Amy. They are fishing but it doesn’t look like they’ve had much luck. They start squabbling about the knots their father used to use. Apparently he taught Andrea how to tie a bunch of types of knots, but only taught Amy how to tie one. Then Andrea remembers him using only one type of fly, while Amy remembers another.
But really, they’re remembering this because it encapsulates how they were raised—always fishing with their father. He taught them two different ways to fish because he knew the girls were very different people. For Andrea he caught fish to eat, but for Amy, they always threw the fish back.
And really, they’re just talking about it because they’re worried about their parents. Their mother and father live in Florida and they don’t know how badly the zombie outbreak hit that region. Amy, being Amy, holds out hope that their parents are OK, but Andrea seems to know better. But they stop squabbling, and soon they’ve caught a fish.
Awwwwwwwww. She loves her sisterrrrrrrrrrr
UP AT THE ENCAMPMENT
Meanwhile, Dale is standing guard on top of the RV when he spots Jim on a nearby hilltop, digging like crazy.
Jim hasn’t done much in the series yet. In fact, I’m pretty sure they never even mentioned his name. So far Jim’s basically been:
Hi there. I’m Jim, a kind and handy man who can fix anything. I’m useful in many situations, like an apocalypse.
What’s Jim digging? A bunch of graves. But nobody has died lately, so that means one of two things: Jim’s going crazy, or [SPOILER-redacted]
Also? Pretty shitty graves. Groundwater’s gonna have those bodies unearthed within a year
One last thing…apparently the survivor encampment is only a couple miles away from Atlanta, because over Jim’s shoulder is the skyline very close by. I would Google around to see what mountain they’re on, but I’m on a plane without WiFi or free WiFi. Happy Thanksgiving!
THE DEPARTMENT STORE ROOFTOP
When we last left the rescue crew, Daryl was flipping out over Merle’s disappearance. He still is, and now he levels his crossbow at T-Dog’s head. Rick quickly draws his handgun, (a .357 Colt Python, I looked up before I got on the plane). Rick will glady blow Daryl’s head clean off if he has to, even if all the zombies hear it. Daryl slowly lowers the crossbow.
Instead, he goes to Merle’s severed hand. He asks T-Dog if he has “a ‘do rag or something,” and T-Dog produces a handkerchief.
Ha! You said it, Daryl! Wait…that didn’t come out right. Seriously, guys, I’m not racist. I know many minority people.
Daryl wraps the hand in the handkerchief and delicately packs it in Glen’s backpack.
Awwwwwwww. He loves his brotherrrrrrrrrrrrr.
Then Daryl spots the blood from Merle’s self-surgery. Merle must have used a tourniquet, probably his belt, because there actually isn’t much blood. Daryl starts following the trail. T-Dog grabs Dale’s tool box, and the others follow Daryl down the stairwell,
while goodly Dale pays a visit to Jim, who is still digging furiously. Dale tries to talk to him, but Jim won’t even look up, and won’t take the water Dale offers. Dale slowly walks away.
THE DEPARTMENT STORE
The guys follow the blood to a room where they meet this zombie:
This is the picture I would use for the front page picture, if I was still doing that
Daryl shoots the zombie through the eye and they continue on. They come across a couple freshly killed zombies and figure this is Merle’s doing. He took down two zombies with only one hand and a bloody stump? Badass. But Rick, always level-headed, reminds them that anyone will pass out from enough blood loss.
Amy and Andrea return to camp with a whole load of fish. Everyone rejoices.
Hooray! You depleted our food supply!
Seriously, though, do quarries have fish in them? Someone wanna Google that for me?
They return the fishing rods to Dale, then chide him for his sub-par rod maintenance. He is too worried about Jim, though, and now he tells everyone else about this new problem.
THE DEPARTMENT STORE—A KITCHEN
The blood trail continues into a kitchen. Here they find Merle’s belt next to a still-lit stove burner, and next to that, a metal presser Merle obviously used to self-cauterize his bloody stump.
See? I told you this show is classy. If this were an Eli Roth movie, we would have seen Merle do this.
Across the room they spot a smashed windowpane. Merle has busted out of the department store. Daryl insists this is proof Merle is still alive, but Rick urges caution—Merle could easily be passed out in a street somewhere, being gnawed on.
They argue about this some, whether Merle’s decision-making was any good in this situation, Daryl believing Merle did what he had to do to survive, T-Dog and Rick believing Merle is probably dead, and foolish for leaving a pretty secure location. Which leads Daryl back to the fact that they chained Merle to the pipe, and thus the building was never that safe to begin with. They get in each other’s faces a little, but not so much that it slows down the scene.
But really, it’s time to decide what to do next. Daryl wants to track his brother, but the others won’t do it without the gun cache. To calm Daryl down, Rick sympathizes with him, pointing that he knows exactly how Daryl feels, having lost Lori and Carl himself. They will help Daryl look, but only if Daryl behaves himself and they get the guns first.
Now Dale leads the entire survivor group up to the ridge to speak with Jim. Shane’s in the lead and clearly looks out of place…
Hands in pockets, shoulders slumped, timid expression…someone needs to go to Toastmasters
Shane’s idea is to just ease into a conversation about why Jim’s digging. Dale and Morales try a bit of a stronger approach, trying to tell Jim he’s been digging all day in 100 degree heat and could hurt himself. Finally, Lori steps up and shows some balls. She’s not too polite to tell Jim he’s scaring everyone, including the kids. That gets him to engage. He tells everyone to screw off.
So Shane tries again. Jim needs to take a break. Shane tries to be nice about it, even offering to help Jim dig later on, but Jim still refuses to give up the shovel. He asks Shane if he’ll beat his face in, the way he did Ed’s, reminding everyone of Shane’s more questionable leadership tactics. Amy sticks up for Shane at least, saying to everyone that Ed was out of control.
Jim’s still adamant. So Shane tries to grab the shovel, provoking Jim to take a swing at him, and Shane has to tackle and cuff him.
Shane promises Jim won’t be hurt, but this sets Jim off. That’s what Jim told his own wife and kids when the zombies came. But did it help any? Nope. Jim only escaped because the zombies were too busy eating them.
Meanwhile, Glen is trying to explain a plan the others wholly object to. The idea is, since Glen knows the area the best and is the quickest, he should run out to retrieve the guns by himself, while the others stay at two strategic safe points. This way Glen will have multiple escape options.
The explanation seems pretty well thought out, so they agree. Daryl will accompany Glen to one safe point, while Rick and T-Dog will wait at the other.
Before they leave, Daryl asks Glen what he did before the outbreak, i.e., where did he learn how to strategize like this? Glen was a pizza delivery boy. And that line was written by a consulting producer, probably.
The guys make their way down the ladder into the alley—this is where Rick first met Glen in episode two. They make their way to the safe points.
Daryl tells Glen in his less-racist-than-Merle way that Glen’s got some balls for a Chinaman. (Merle would never be caught dead helping a Chinaman). Glen reminds him he’s Korean, and then sets off. He creeps out into the street and makes it to the sandbags where the tank is, but he doesn’t notice that a zombie has awoken in a nearby car.
Back in the alley, Daryl waits with his crossbow behind a dumpster. A person approaches. Daryl springs out and aims the bow at him, and the guy freaks. He calls out in Spanish for help.
His name’s Miguel. We don’t learn that for like two more acts, but it’s easier if I include it now
Glen makes it to the guns, and also finds Rick’s deputy hat. He runs back in Daryl’s direction, dodging zombies.
Rick and T-Dog hear the screams, so they give up their post and run toward the commotion.
Daryl finally smacks Miguel in the mouth with his crossbow and shuts him up, but not before a couple other gangbanger-types come running.
This is Felipe, played by Noel Gugliemi. You will recognize him from The Shield, or really whenever Hollywood needs someone to play a gangbanger type.
They knock Daryl over and proceed to pummel him. One has an aluminum baseball bat. He hits Daryl in the spine several times with it, but Daryl is OK, like you are when you’re a TV or movie character.
Glen returns to Daryl with the guns, which these new dudes instantly recognize–this is why they’re in the area, to retrieve them. They lay a beating on Glen, too. While they’re doing that, Daryl recovers and shoots Felipe in the ass.
Why would you shoot someone in the ass and not, say, the leg? I don’t understand
As Rick and T-Dog arrive, a car pulls up with the Vatos’ comrades. Felipe and the other dude grab Glen, jump in the car, and speed off as zombies surround the alley door.
Daryl goes into a rage and Rick has to hold him back from beating the life out of Miguel. They are cut off from escape, so they climb back up the ladder.
Since the scuffle Shane has chained Jim to a tree and things have more or less returned to normal. Shane and Dale are now giving Jim a drink of water. Jim seems like himself again.
He wants to know how long Shane plans to keep him locked up, and Shane replies, until Jim doesn’t seem like a danger to himself or others any more.
To begin damage control, Jim calls out to Lori, Carol, Carl, and Sophie, who are sitting nearby killing time together. He apologizes for losing his cool. Lori brushes it off. No biggie.
Dale asks Jim why he was digging in the first place, but Jim can’t remember. He had some dream that prompted him, but he doesn’t remember the dream itself.
Maybe Jim had a dream about opening up a burial business for when society returns. That has to be it. There’s no way it’s, like, an omen or anything like that
Anyway, Rick was also in the dream, so Jim calls this out to Carl. “You worried about your Daddy?” he asks. Carl says he’s not, which we know because he said the same thing to Lori. Jim presses on anyway and tells Carl not to be worried, because his Daddy is a policeman and can take care of himself. Lori gently asks Jim to stop talking to her son.
“Thanks, man I’ve never spoken to before. Question: can I start calling you Uncle Jim?”
Shane leads everyone off to clean the fish for dinner, but Lori lags behind. She approaches Jim, probably to find out what compelled him to talk to Carl out of the blue like that, but before she can speak, he gives her a warning: keep your boy close. Don’t let him out of your site.
THE DEPARTMENT STORE
Rick, Daryl, and T-Dog interrogate Miguel about the other members of his crew. Who are they, where are they, what do they want, do they know anything about Merle, etc. Miguel is defiant and even insults Merle’s hick-ish name. Rick has to hold Daryl back from kicking him in the face.
Instead, Daryl decides to put his brother’s former hand to good use. He takes it out of the bag, unwraps it, tells Miguel, “This is what happened to the last guy who pissed me off!” and throws it in Miguel’s lap. Miggy freaks and Daryl threatens to do the same to him, or maybe cut his feet off instead.
This is enough to break down Miguel’s resolve. He will take the rescuers to the hideout to see if they can work something out.
THE VATOS HIDEOUT
Rick and Daryl get ready to escort Miguel to the front entrance, sans T-Dog. Miguel inadvertently tells them about “G”, or Guillermo. He’s the leader of the Vatos. (They never get an official name, but that’s how I’m referring to them, since it’s the real episode title). The guys set out, Miguel first, Rick and Daryl with weapons ready.
They walk through a derelict warehouse-type place to a huge door, and a man steps out…
Meet Guillermo, played by Neil Brown Jr., from an episode of Everybody Loves Chris in which he played Cute Boy #1
Rick and G begin their negotiation. Rick wants a one-for-one trade, Miguel for Glen, but Guillermo isn’t satisfied with that. Felipe was shot in the ass! Miguel was roughed up! Where is his compensation?
He’s acting wronged because he wants Rick’s bag of guns. He won’t budge on this demand. In fact, he’s inclined to just waste Rick and Daryl right now.
Rick tells him that’s a bad idea, and indicates a far-off vantage point, where T-Dog is waiting with a sniper rifle aimed at Guillermo’s head. G doesn’t seem impressed. He signals to his own guys to bring forth Glen, and they do—on the roof of the warehouse. This is pretty much saying, “Why don’t I just throw your friend to his death?”
Rick has a choice. Bring Miguel and the guns, or get ready for a shootout. Guillermo doesn’t seem to care either way. Good negotiator, that one.
G’s an awesome character. When you were watching this, were you thinking to yourself, man I wish I were in a street gang. They stick together when the apocalypse happens. I was.
THE DEPARTMENT STORE
Rick, Daryl, and T-Dog, having retreated with Miguel, weigh their options. Would they be willing to give up their incredibly valuable guns just for one guy, even if it’s their buddy Glen? Do they think they can even trust Guillermo if they do? (Miguel objects to this one).
Daryl and even T-Dog seem, if not inclined to abandon Glen, at least to be wary of Guillermo. But Rick’s Good Guy-ness kicks in. Remember how Glen rescued him from the tank? Didn’t have to do that. Rick can’t abandon Glen now. That settles it.
So they’re going to trade the guns? Rick’s not that much of an idealist. They’ll have to blow the Vatos away. Rick offers Daryl and T-Dog the chance to walk away, but they can’t face the prospect of going back to Rick’s family without him. The guys lock and load.
THE VATOS’ HIDEOUT
They return to the hideout, with Miguel bound and gagged. Guillermo and his men let them inside. Rick’s got his deputy hat on.
There’s only one thing Rick has to say. He cuts Miguel free and thrusts him toward Guillermo. Now he wants Glen. The guns are not on the table.
Guillermo turns nasty. How about he chops Glen up and feeds him to his dogs? He got them from Satan at a yard sale, he tells us.
And there ya go. Nobody’s going to budge. Rick levels his shotgun at Guillermo’s face. I WONDER HOW THEY’RE GOING TO GET OUT OF THIS PICKLE!!!!
Well hey, an old lady shows up!
Awwwwwwwww, Felipe loves his mee-maaaaaaaaaaaaw
Really! It’s Felipe’s grandma. The Vatos all want her to go back to her room or wherever she was, but Abuela wants to know what all the ruckus is and why Rick and his friends are pointing guns at her grandson, who is a nice boy and doesn’t get into trouble any more, but Rick explains all he wants is his friend Glen. (Rick’s uniform seems to come in handy here. Who knows what would happen if he were dressed like a random dude).
Well why didn’t he say so? She takes Rick, Daryl, and T-Dog deeper into the hideout. Which turns out not to be a gang hideout, but instead…
A NURSING HOME!
Yes, a nursing home! There’s old people galore in here. Rick, Daryl, and T-Dog are dumbfounded. Here’s a Vato helping an old man having an asthma attack. There are the dogs Guillermo mentioned…
At first I thought it was fucking stupid to keep and feed completely useless dogs during the apocalypse, but…wait, I still do think that.
And here is Glen. He’s become so absorbed with helping the old people that he doesn’t even read Rick’s astonishment that he’s OK.
Rick takes Guillermo aside and calls him out on being a complete dumbass about all this. If Abuela hadn’t intervened he would have had to shoot everybody, and that blood would be on his conscience.
Same goes for Guillermo, though. He’s here to protect these people because he used to be a custodian at this facility. Felipe was a nurse. The rest of the staff took off when the outbreak hit.
The Vatos are mainly relatives of the nursing home residents. They’ve barred up the facility and scrounge food where they can, but really they’re screwed unless someone comes to rescue them. They’re sitting ducks. Guillermo thought Rick’s crew were looters. He had no way to know they weren’t.
Rick is touched by this display of humanity, of a bunch of guys staying in a zombie-infested city to protect their elderly family members. He gives Guillermo a couple guns, and they’re off.
Well, OK, wasn’t strictly a deus ex machina since it led to this nice scene about the theme of the show, but I liked my title. And I do not revise the things I write.
OUTSKIRTS OF ATLANTA
The guys walk back towards the spot where they left their van. Daryl gripes about giving valuable weapons to people who are doomed anyway, but Rick points out that everyone is doomed.
But then they notice, hey, the van is gone! Somebody stole it! Rick knows it was Merle. And Daryl knows Merle will be headed back to camp to wreak vengeance on the survivors. He seems not too happy about his brother doing this, so maybe he’s coming around to being one of the normals.
INSIDE THE RV, BACK AT THE CAMP
Andrea is rooting around in the drawers for some wrapping paper or something like it, when Dale comes in. She can’t believe he doesn’t have any. He apologizes wryly for not stocking up before the impending apocalypse.
She wants wrapping paper because tomorrow is Amy’s birthday—she’s been marking off days just for this occasion—and she’s got that mermaid pendant to give her. You don’t give an unwrapped gift. Dale promises he’ll find something
Outside the survivors go about their day. They are having a fish fry tonight and Shane frees Jim so he can participate. Jim seems happier now.
Morales has built up the fire pit, so now they can have a bigger fire. He is very pleased with himself.
Then we get to check in with Ed, who’s been nursing his damaged pride and facial bones.
Carol urges Ed to come out of his tent so he can join the meal, but he refuses. To hell with all of them! Carol and Sophie turn to leave, but he insists Sophie stay with him. This suggestion seems uncomfortable to Carol, so she refuses to allow it. To hell with them too, then.
“You made me a wife beater AND a child molester? Last time I’m being a character for YOU, Robert Kirkman.”
Meanwhile, Rick, Daryl, T-Dog, and Glen haul ass back to camp on foot. Apparently it’s close enough to cover the ground in a couple hours. (This much running is clearly heart attack territory for T-Dog, though).
And that night, as everyone gathers around the fire for their meal, the mood is light, like everyone’s happy for the first time. Morales kids Dale about the watch he wears. Why bother winding it every day? Does time even exist any more? Seems like Dale’s upholding an antiquated tradition, like a priest who says a mass every day that nobody goes to.
Dale laughs. He remembers a quote from Faulkner:
“A father said to the son, when giving him a watch—I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire which will fit your individual needs no better than it did mine or my father’s before me. I give it to you not that you may remember time but that you can forget it for a moment, and not spend all of your breath trying to conquer it.”
Amy calls him weird. Ha ha. Then she excuses herself to go to the restroom.
Meanwhile, as Earl dozes in his tent, he hears someone walking around outside. Wonder who that could be…Merle? Carol? Uh, Amy?
Nah, it’s just karma
So, he’s dead. A bunch more zombies follow the initial one into the tent to eat him up.
Amy comes out of the RV, and a zombie grabs her too…
Wait…this isn’t karma. Amy was really nice! I’m confused.
Everyone scrambles. Shane and Dale start shooting and Jim grabs a bat and starts whacking. The womenfolk grab the children and run for the RV.
Rick and the others, meanwhile, are within range to hear the shots, so they ready their guns.
There are a lot of zombies now.
Even the heroin-chic zombies have shown up
One of the survivors gets his shoulder ate up.
I don’t know who he is, apparently there were a bunch of survivors hanging around who we never see until they die
Andrea finally makes her way over to her sister. She takes Amy’s head in her hands and wails about not knowing what to do, and probably gets zombie virus blood all over herself.
Some other dude gets his back eaten…
And finally Rick and the others show up. Headshot headshot headshot, die die die, and it’s all over.
Rick immediately searches out Carl and Lori and bellows out their names in gratitude.
And finally, Jim deadpans that he remembers now why he dug all those graves!
So do you guys think Merle led this legion of zombies up to the encampment, or did Morales’s bigger fire attract them? Or did the zombies just stumble across them by chance?
Like I said, I’ve been on a plane this whole time, and gahh, do people smell bad. It’s like every time they exhale you have to smell the inside of their stomachs. There’s no way I would survive the zombie apocalypse unless people can shower twice a day. Not to mention the decaying flesh everywhere. Gross.
But either way, thanks for reading!